Skip links

From a teacher to a student: Where Should I Study?

Finding the Right English School

When I was a teacher in Tokyo, I saw advertisements everywhere for English language schools. My Japanese friends would visit several schools before deciding which one to attend. Now that I’m a teacher in Southern California, I see many English language schools trying to recruit international students from all over the world. However, there is a challenge facing international students coming to study English in the United States. Which school should they choose? International students do not have the ability to visit several schools in person to see which schools would be best for their needs. If you are planning to study English in the United States, here are a few tips on helping you choose the right school:

·              Do your homework. Google some schools in the geographic area you want to study. Go through the school’s website. Look at the school’s social media activity on sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.  Many schools now have multiple ways you can contact them including What’s App and other messaging apps. Don’t be too shy to ask questions.

·              Look for accreditation. While doing your research on prospective schools, make sure the school has federally recognized accreditation (see for a list) and U.S. government approval to issue I-20s for student visas.  

·              Look on the school’s website and social media. Are there a lot of postings of student outings and events? Is there information that is beneficial to students? Are there relevant blogs for students to follow or English tips posted regularly?

·              Know your goals in English.  Does the school have a variety of programs to suit individual students’ needs (i.e. TOEFL, Conversation, Business English)?  Look for a school offering classes that will closely meet your goals in English.

·              Ask about the qualifications of the teachers. Do they need to have a degree? Do they need teaching experience? The school should be able to answer questions about their teachers’ qualifications and experience.

·              Ask about the teaching method and curriculum. Is it student-centered? Are there scheduled starting dates for classes? Schools that have a clear methodology and specific starting dates are generally higher quality than schools that offer classes starting anytime with no specific curriculum or prerequisites for enrollment.

·              The old saying, “you get what you pay for,” is generally true. If a school is unbelievably cheap, chances are the classes will not be high quality.  As a general rule, it’s always best to stay in the middle and not buy the most expensive or cheapest commodity or service. The cheapest things will often fall apart because of low quality, and the expensive things are just not worth the price, even if they are good.  Look in the middle and find English classes that are good quality and suitable for your needs. Also, remember that there is a lot of competition among schools. Ask about promotions and other incentives for enrollment.  

Doing a little homework and asking the right questions will really help you when deciding where to study English in the United States.


Join the Discussion